Heartbreaking accounts of outraged Covid bereaved families

Why DID our loved ones have to die? Heartbreaking accounts of bereaved Covid victims, including one whose mum was left to perish because of a lack of PPE and another who fears late lockdown may have killed her sister-in-law

  • Bereaved Brits stood outside the Covid Inquiry in London this morning
  • Anna-Louise Marsh-Rees, whose dad died, called for ‘justice and accountability’
  • READ MORE: Boris Johnson says sorry for ‘pain and loss’ of Covid victims

Michelle Rumball says her 78-year-old mother Violet was left to die because of a PPE shortage, with medics placing a DNR on her to avoid becoming infected.

Kathryn Butcher believes her sister-in-law would still be alive today had ministers locked down the country sooner in March 2020.

Alan Inglis says his son Callum died ‘without dignity’ after he became infected in prison and was left to cough up blood without receiving any medical care.

These are just three of the most heartbreaking stories of Brits who’ve lost loved ones to Covid. 

Here, MailOnline tells them in full, including the tales behind the four protesters who held up signs that read ‘The Dead can’t hear your apologies’ as Boris Johnson began giving evidence to the Covid inquiry today.  

Dozens more people who have lost family and friends to Covid gathered outside the inquiry, with many holding pictures of loved ones

My mother’s life was needlessly taken away

Kirsten Hackman lost her mother, Margaret Watt, during the first wave of Covid in 2020.

Ms Watt was admitted to the Isle of Wight NHS Trust after falling and fracturing her pelvis. 

She tested negative when hospitalised but, four weeks later and still in hospital, she tested positive for the virus.

Just 48 hours later, she was placed on the hospice ward and she died on May 2 — just two weeks before her 86th birthday.

Ms Hackman said she was able to see her mother in hospital before she died 

READ MORE: Boris Johnson sorry for ‘pain and loss’ of Covid victims: Ex-PM admits he ‘should have twigged’ earlier how bad pandemic would be

Boris Johnson kicked off an epic two-day grilling at the Covid inquiry today as he fends off criticism of his leadership

She told The Guardian: ‘Her life was needlessly taken away from us, and the most vulnerable in our community have been badly let down by preventable actions.’ 

Only eight people could attend her funeral, which is ‘not what she would have wanted’, she added.

My mother wasn’t resuscitated due to a PPE shortage 

Ms Rumball’s mother Violet Partington, 78, was rushed to Northwick Hospital in Harrow, north west London, on April 8, 2020, due to breathing difficulties.

The grandmother-of-13 died hours later.

A few days after her death, her family discovered that a do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNAR) order had been imposed on Ms Partington.

Ms Rumball told the i that her mother, and other elderly Covid patients, had been ‘written off’.

NHS staff claimed that Ms Partington signed the order before medical notes revealed there was no signature, she told The Mirror. 

She claimed that the hospital blamed a shortage of PPE that meant it was ‘reasonable’ for a doctor to sign the DNAR order ‘to minimise risk and avoid depleting PPE stocks’.

She told the paper that she hopes the inquiry ‘will get some sort of justice for my mum’. 

My husband died alone in an unnatural environment 

Fran Hall’s husband Steve died from Covid on October 18, 2020, just three weeks after they got married and one day before his 66th birthday.

Steve, a retired Metropolitan police sergeant, was suffering from terminal prostate cancer but his health took a rapid downturn in the days following the wedding.

He was taken to hospital in an ambulance eight days after they got married. 

She told London funeral website Poppy’s: ‘In the period before he died, we were totally separated, I couldn’t be with him. 

‘I know that for the last days of his life he was alone in an unnatural environment, with no touch, surrounded by people with their faces covered. 

‘That’s not how human beings should be.’

Ms Hall was able to be with Steve when he died but said ‘so many others were denied that’.

A billboard truck takes part in a protest against the scale of the Covid deaths in Britain outside the Covid Inquiry in London ahead of Boris Johnson giving evidence

She joined the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice Campaign and spent 10 days working on the memorial wall alongside the River Thames. 

Ms Hall was invited to Downing Street, along with other campaigners, to meet Mr Johnson and share her story but said she could see ‘no flicker of compassion or hurt’ behind his eyes, she wrote in The Guardian.

Late Covid lockdown might have killed my sister-in-law 

Ms Butcher’s sister-in-law Myrna Saunders, 56, died in March 2020.

She told The Guardian: ‘Today is probably the hardest [day] for me so far because of the [first] late lockdown.

‘Had it come when it should have come there’s a chance [Myrna] would not have caught Covid. That was Johnson’s decision. 

‘I think today is going to be emotionally hard. I want to know the truth. I want to make sure my family is protected from this happening again.’

My father was treated like toxic waste

Anna-Louise Marsh-Rees, who leads Covid Bereaved Families for Justice Cymru, today called for ‘accountability, not weak apologies’ over Government decision-making. 

She said: ‘My father Ian died of hospital acquired Covid on the 23rd of October 2020. Even if they make excuses for what happened in wave one, there was all that time for prepare for wave two and in-between that crucial period.

‘While most of the decisions shaping the response in Wales were made by the Welsh Government, there were many decisions made by UK Government that shaped the response in Wales too.’

Ms Marsh-Rees previously told the inquiry that Ian, 85, died ‘gasping for breath’ after catching Covid and that his body was treated like ‘toxic waste’.

Her father was admitted to a hospital in Abergavenny with a gallbladder infection in 2020. He was moved around the hospital six times in eight days and caught Covid.

Anna-Louise Marsh-Rees, whose father Ian died in October 2020 after catching the virus in hospital and was ‘treated like toxic waste’, called for ‘truth, justice and accountability’

After being discharged, Ian’s health quickly deteriorated, leading his wife Valerie to call their GP 13 times and make four visits to out-of-hours services. 

Ian was readmitted to hospital, where his condition worsened and he died.

Ms Marsh-Rees told the inquiry in July: ‘Once somebody with Covid dies, they are almost treated like toxic waste.

‘They are zipped away and nobody told us that you can’t wash them, you can’t dress them, you can’t do any of those things. The funeral, the ceremonies you can’t do anything.’

She added: ‘When we left the hospital, we were given my dad’s stuff in a Tesco carrier bag.

‘There’s a whole generation, my mum’s generation, who haven’t got the mechanisms maybe I have to complain and question and they are heartbroken, really in shock.

‘My mum cries daily and even though it’s nearly three years but we’d like some change to happen in their lifetime.’

Speaking outside the inquiry today, Ms Marsh-Rees said: ‘We’re fighting for truth, justice and accountability on behalf of our loved ones.’

She took aim at Mr Johnson, calling on him to ‘act with integrity and provide the inquiry with honest answers as to why his Government took the decisions it did’.

‘If he says today that he got the big things right, I’m not sure how I’m going to be able to sit there,’ Ms Marsh-Rees said.

‘How is 230,000 deaths not a big thing? 

‘Over the last seven weeks, we have heard so much that is depressing, distressing, completely incredulous. 

‘And today, I’m just dreading hearing that the older and vulnerable in our society were collateral damage. 

‘There must be accountability, not weak apologies. It can’t happen again.’

My son died without help or dignity  

Mr Inglis, from Scottish Covid Bereaved, today told how his son Callum was left to die from Covid while alone in a prison cell.

He said: ‘What I am looking for from Mr Johnson this morning is straightforward answers to simple questions. No skirting around the truth with political waffle. 

‘Myself and fellow members of Scottish Covid Bereaved were shaken to the core a few weeks back when Mr Johnson’s behind closed doors comments of ‘let the bodies pile high’ first came to light. 

‘And then, to add insult to us all further, by considering that he go live on TV to have himself injected with the virus to prove that it wasn’t that serious.

Alan Inglis, whose son Callum died ‘without dignity’ after he became infected in prison, said Mr Johnson should provide the inquiry with ‘straightforward answers to simple questions’

Bereaved Brits stood outside the Covid Inquiry in London this morning, which will hear from former Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the next two days. Pictured, from left: Anna-Louise Marsh Rees, Aamer Anwar, Alan Inglis and Natalie Rogers

‘Well, for his information, Covid-19 claimed the life of my son Callum. He was 34 and, within the Scottish Covid Bereaved group, I know of two other families morning the loss of their sons. 

‘One, aged 27, and the other, ages with Callum, who left behind a wife and two children.’

Mr Inglis has previously told how Callum was serving a ‘short term’ at privately-run HMP Addiewell in West Lothian and died ‘without help, without dignity’. 

He tested positive for Covid on October 12, 2021 but his health ‘deteriorated rapidly’ over the following 12 days. 

However, Callum was not seen by a nurse, despite becoming breathless and ‘coughing up significant amounts of blood’, according to Mr Inglis. 

READ MORE: Britain was ‘well down the table’ of countries with the highest Covid deaths, Boris Johnson says as he clashes with official inquiry KC who claimed the UK was second worst in Western Europe

Giving evidence at the official inquiry, Boris Johnson disputed a suggestion from counsel that the UK’s toll had been the second worst in Western Europe

He repeatedly asked for medical attention and was promised someone would see him. But not medics showed up and he was found unresponsive in his cell on October 24, 2021. 

Mr Inglis has criticised the ‘barbaric’ care received. 

Discussing the Covid Inquiry today, he said: ‘The outcome of this inquiry at the very least must provide a future Government with the tools to deal with any pandemic that presents itself again. 

‘This can be achieved by listening to medical and scientific experts from the outset rather than making up strategies as they go along.’

Dozens more people who have lost family and friends to Covid gathered outside the inquiry, with many holding pictures of loved ones. 

Aamer Anwar, the solicitor representing Scottish Bereaved Covid families, said the evidence given to the inquiry so far has exposed ‘a deadly culture of impunity, of incompetence, of arrogance and blaming everyone else but themselves’. 

He said: ‘Boris Johnson is expected to issue an apology this morning. 

‘Yet he will claim he saved thousands of lives. 

‘For many of the bereaved, that will be a grotesque distortion of the truth. 

‘In Boris Johnson’s words, instead of solving a national crisis, his Government presided over a told disgusting ‘orgy of narcissism’. 

‘He did let the bodies pile up and the elderly were treated as toxic waste.

‘As a result, over a quarter of a million people died from Covid. 

‘They cannot speak of themselves but their families, the bereaved and all those impacted by Covid deserve the truth today.’

Mr Johnson today told the inquiry: ‘Can I just say how glad I am to be at this inquiry and how sorry I am for the pain and the loss and the suffering of the Covid victims’.

However, four people were then removed from the hearing.

Speaking outside the inquiry, Kathryn Butcher, 59, who lost her sister-in-law, told reporters afterwards: ‘We didn’t want his apology.

‘When he tried to apologise we stood up. We didn’t block anybody. We were told to sit down.

‘We didn’t sit down straight away. One of us said stayed standing, so the rest of us came out in solidarity.’

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